Internet connection increases by 1.6% in rural areas while the digital and generational gap becomes more evident

Rural inhabitants connect 10% less to the Internet per day than the Spanish average and access 38% less social networks

During the pandemic, the use of apps for video calls, administrative procedures or watching videos soared 

Click here to access the Executive presentation of the report "How Empty Spain fills its time on the Internet"

Madrid, 10 November 2021 - Although the population accessing the Internet has increased by 1.6% in rural areas in the last year, the truth is that the digital and generational divide has become more evident in a period of restrictions on mobility and necessary use of this tool to maintain life and business, according to the report 'How Empty Spain fills its time on the Internet' prepared by Eurona in collaboration with the consultancy firm Kantar and presented this Wednesday by Francesc Boya, Secretary General for the Demographic Challenge and Fernando Ojeda, CEO of the company.

According to this pioneering report on Internet consumption in rural Spain, almost a quarter (21.7%) of the inhabitants of municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants still did not have access to the Internet when the pandemic struck. Thus, while fibre optics is the technology most used (66%) by the population as a whole to access the Internet, the truth is that only 33% of the rural population has access to it.

Similarly, rural dwellers connect 10% less to the Internet per day than the Spanish average, access 38% less to social networks such as LinkedIn and only 1 in 2 said they had shopped online during the year. In addition, 35.5% of the rural population never consume online videos -a higher percentage than those who do-.

It is also noteworthy that, although price is the determining factor in the choice of one telecommunications operator or another among the inhabitants of towns and cities, the importance given by the rural population to the speed of the connection, the second most important aspect for them and one of their headaches today, stands out.

These data only serve to highlight how the lack of telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas causes a visible gap that leads its inhabitants to be one step behind the total population in the main Internet consumption trends.

Young rural people are on board with the trends

This conclusion is also reflected in Eurona and KANTAR's study of Internet consumption patterns during the pandemic, a period in which it is also clear that it is the younger generations that are following the trends set by the population as a whole, while a gap is detected among the older age groups in rural areas.

Thus, 91% of the population aged between 14 and 25 had Internet at home, while only 59.5% of those over 60 had a connection. Moreover, 97% of younger people accessed the Internet on a daily basis, compared with 38.6% of older people who did so. The same is true for the consumption of social networks: only 32.7% of those over 60 consult them in the rural world, compared to 95% of young people who do.

What Internet consumption was like in the pandemic

But, beyond the obvious digital and generational divide, other data that mark Internet consumption during the health crisis period are also striking in this pioneering Eurona report, such as the increase in the frequency of online shopping -weekly purchases soared by 155%-, as well as the purchase of household products, food at home, video games and household appliances, which grew by between 50 and 80%.

In addition, the use of communication applications increased at a time when social relations were restricted. During the pandemic, the use of Hangouts, which is very much dedicated to professional relations, rose by 138%; the use of Telegram by 74.8%; the use of Skype by 65.2%; and the use of Whatsapp by 3.72%.

Likewise, the use of applications for making video calls, online administrative procedures and formalities (37.6%), downloading ebooks (22%) and computer programmes (40.3%) or the use of Twitter to read and write comments (27.9%) shot up by 80.3%. Meanwhile, the rural population that watched online videos on a daily basis also increased by 26.5%.

On the other hand, there was also a logical decrease - due to the 'standstill' or the slowdown in movements brought about by the pandemic - in activities such as consulting traffic (-28.5%), maps and routes (-18.7%), accessing information on cultural events (-21.5%), searching for information on restaurants and shops in the area (-15.6%) or accessing price comparators (-11.7%).

From the data analysed, this report therefore concludes that the Internet, even more so in a situation of health crisis that has forced us to spend more time at home, has become a basic necessity and a source of opportunities in more and less populated areas, as it is a technology that has come to make our lives easier, to help us in our day-to-day lives and whose implementation should be mandatory regardless of its profitability.

According to Fernando Ojeda, CEO of Eurona, "only by taking the pulse of the inhabitants of rural areas, knowing their behaviour, their routines, their dynamics and their usual requirements based on real data, will we be able to offer them the best solutions, such as those provided by satellite technology. Problems as pressing as depopulation not only require administrations but also the private sector and society to do their part. Thus, this report aims to be a help, the card on the table that Eurona puts on its field of expertise to balance the balance of opportunities between the rural and urban world".

About the report 'How Empty Spain fills its time on the Internet'.

The report 'How Empty Spain fills its time on the Internet' prepared by Eurona in collaboration with Kantar Media arises from the need to analyse and know for the first time and in a rigorous way how Internet consumption is in rural environments, what patterns are followed in these municipalities of less than 5,000 inhabitants that often suffer the problems associated with the scarcity of opportunities such as the lack of telecommunications infrastructure that leads to inefficient speed or quality of connection.

For this pioneering report on Internet consumption in rural areas, Eurona has drawn on the latest market data available from AIMC, the Media Research Association. The total population (online and offline) as well as the rural population over the age of 14 was represented through a large sample of more than 10,000 individuals with cross-referencing of media and media to obtain statistical robustness. Specifically, the rural habitat (less than 5,000 inhabitants) has been analysed during 2019 and 2020 in different age brackets: 14-25 years old, 26-59 years old, and over 60 years old.

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